We landed on time at Belfast City Airport and made our way to the baggage claim. As we entered the area, I got my first glimpse at Leon Andersen waiting for us in the main airport lobby. Leon is a Facebook friend and we’ve been staying in touch for more than 2 years. This trip was a great chance to meet him and hang out. He has graciously volunteered to show us around Ireland during the brief time that we off.
We waited patiently for our luggage on the carousel…only to be disappointed. None of our bags arrived with us! We filed the necessary paper work and Leon drove us to the airport in Belfast’s Queen’s Quarter. We parked the car and went on the search for food!
Lunch gave us some time to get to know each other, chat a little about magic, and talk about “tourism” plans for the next couple of days. Once we checked into the hotel, I took some time to relax and take a shower before dinner. Tonight would be the first time that I would officially meet Daniel Harte and Alison Porter-Armstrong from the University of Ulster.
Dinner was fantastic at a restaurant called DEANES at Queen’s College. There was quite a group of us – several of the area magicians (Alex, Paul and Leon), Daniel Harte (NI Hand Injury Rehab Center), Alison Porter-Armstrong (U of U Occupational Therapy), Rachelone of Alison’s graduate students), Chase, and I. And, before the night was, over, Dido Green (researcher from Oxford Brooks in London) joined us for dessert. We had good conversation about magic and rehabilitation and developing an undergraduate program in the OT Department of the University of Ulster.
It took some time to fall asleep once I got back to the hotel last night. The enthusiasm about the magic therapy research project being considered by Daniel got me very excited. Once I finally fell asleep, morning came VERY quickly!
We were Dido and Leon for breakfast and then drove over to the University of Ulster to prepare for the workshop. We had more than 40 therapists registered to attend a full day, 6-hour continuing education session on the Healing of Magic program. This was due to the amazing work of Daniel and Alison at U of U – their enthusiasm for this project really moved it forward!
The morning session consisted mostly of providing the rationales, research, and case studies that support this treatment technique. After a lunch break, the afternoon session was the “hands-on experiential learning” aspect of the workshop. The University also invited some clients and special needs children to attend the workshop as a means by which they could gauge the immediate benefits of using magic tricks as a treatment technique.
When the day wrapped up around 4:30pm, it was great to hear so much positive feedback from participants. We packed up and drove back into Belfast City Center where we spent the remainder of the evening exploring and enjoying the sights, sounds, and food of this fantastic city. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!